What is your role in BC GOV and what product are you currently working on at the Exchange Lab?
Hello internet! My name is Roxanne and I am a Senior User Experience Researcher who works with Natural Resource Ministries of the B.C. Government to build meaningful digital platforms for citizens in British Columbia.
Currently, I am working on EPIC, which is named for the “Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) Project Information and Collaboration”, and is a place where Indigenous Nations, government agencies, and the public have the ability to participate in the environmental assessment process. EPIC promotes transparency by surfacing project information and has an enhanced commenting feature that provides near real-time access of feedback received by the public about environmental assessment projects in B.C.
By connecting with users on a regular basis, I uncover human insight that helps guide the design and digital implementation of EPIC. User research is an iterative process. As observations uncover pain points for users, design solutions are actively prototyped and implemented to ensure that EPIC is built for those who need it the most — the citizens of British Columbia.
- What do you like most about working at the Exchange Lab?
Community and collaboration. I’m a true believer in physical environments influencing well-being, creativity, and problem-solving in the workplace. The Exchange Lab has built a community that prides itself on the transfer of ideas between multi-disciplinary teams both within and outside of government. If you have a problem, there is likely someone in the Lab who either has the answer or is happy to find a whiteboard and figure it out with you!
2. Do you have a favourite failure or apparent failure that has set you up for later success?
As a user researcher, you will often run into a brick wall that says: “What user need can we meet that fits within current priorities laid out by the business?”.
There have been moments early in my career when I was eager to please executive and was led to believe that user needs were secondary to the business priorities set by the company I was working for. This was a mistake.
“Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.” — Tim Brown, IDEO
As a user researcher, remember to always place users at the centre of the design process for your product. If you don’t speak up and vocalize concerns that users are having, your product will not succeed. Although it can cause tension, continuously going to bat for your users will, over time, allow the business to shift their mindset and re-align priorities with the needs of the end user.
3. What is an absurd thing you love?
Winter. The cold, snowy, 30 cm-falling-in-a-night kind of winter. Contrary to popular opinion, the winter has a unique way of energizing my body and mind, giving me the time and space to creatively explore new projects. I’m an avid skier and am constantly driving in the dark to the mountains — I guess that contributes to my love of winter, too!
Also, I feed my dog Nelson a piece of cheese every morning. I suppose that’s pretty absurd, but I love him.
4. What is a book that has greatly influenced your life?
The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.
While my day-to-day work focuses on digital design, I have a fascination with product and industrial design as well. Norman has a magical way of exploring the tension between function and aesthetic, and how difficult it is to effortlessly guide users toward an intended action or experience. The book also has pictures — who doesn’t love a good picture book?!
Want to learn more about Roxanne’s thoughts on User Experience? Check out her Medium articles.